Editor’s note: This is a continuation of our 2020 Leaders Survey coverage, which we began publishing in the Nov. 27 issue. Our annual survey asks business leaders to share what they feel are some of the top issues affecting business in Central Iowa, and in particular the Greater Des Moines region. As you read, you’ll see the responses and also select remarks from differing viewpoints from those who opted to leave comments as they took the survey. 

This year’s guest editor, Claudia Schabel, is the president of Schabel Solutions, a consulting firm that offers strategic solutions on how to build inclusive workplaces to attract and retain talent. She provided analysis of each question.


How secure do you feel in your ability to retire comfortably? (Scale of 1-10, 1 be not comfortable at all)

Agree or disagree: Greater Des Moines has adequate child care/enough affordable child care options.

Guest Editor Claudia Schabel: 2020 responses almost exactly mirror those of 2019 – and this is definitely not a good thing. Given the pandemic, the return of online schooling, the lack of affordable child care options and the fact that many have been and continue to work remotely (none were factors in 2019), this is very problematic for many people, parents and children alike — on many levels and across all demographic groups. Women, who remain the primary caregivers at home, are being impacted disproportionately. Thankfully, this topic will be addressed via the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Clearly, something still needs to change on this front.

Disagree. “With the low wages of many industries, quality child care is out of reach financially for many families.”
Anne Bacon, executive director, IMPACT

Disagree. “There are many child care desserts in our community – places where access to quality and affordable care is limited to nonexistent. COVID has impacted the industry significantly.” 
Teree Caldwell-Johnson, CEO, Oakridge Neighborhood

Disagree. “The price of child care for two children is greater than one year of tuition at a state school in Iowa. We have a serious child care issue in Iowa. The waitlists at quality providers are often six-plus months' wait, and some much longer. The average Central Iowa family earns too much to qualify for child care assistance (approximately $56,000) and yet not enough to afford quality child care services. We need the Iowa Legislature to increase the income limits to child care assistance and address provider issues. This has already and will continue to be a major issue to our economy in Iowa.
Jaimie Miller, executive director, Iowa Credit Union Foundation

Disagree. “Child care is expensive, especially high-quality care. No one was prepared for the child care needs presented as a result of hybrid learning. The divide in socioeconomics related to child care is becoming even greater.”
Tony Dickinson, president, finance corporation, NCMIC

I’m not sure. “It appears we need more and that child care opportunities need to be equipped to help develop the children to meet the needs of tomorrow. Developing better mid-level service-sector jobs will help make it affordable.”
Tom Triplett, vice president of interiors division, Triplett Cos.